Back to the conflation of animals and plants despite the presence of nervous systems in the former and an utter lack of in the latter.
If it’s wrong to steal from a plant, why isn’t it more wrong to kill a seed?
Keith keeps going on about how animals and plants are exactly the same because one fruitarian said something that she was able to twist into this. But here’s the thing: even if they do believe that it’s wrong to steal from a plant, so what? Not all vegans are alike. That’s something that Keith continuously glosses over—that not all vegans are alike; that not all of us believe the same goddamn thing. I’m a primitivist, and my anti-civ anarchism informs my veganism. Bob Torres isn’t, and his pro-civ anti-capitalism informs his veganism just as much. There you go, an example of how vegans don’t agree on every friggin’ thing, even when it comes to veganism itself.
Keith’s book thus far has been basically a series of, “One vegan believes this. Let me argue against them and pretend as though I have refuted the arguments of every vegan.”
I don’t even think it’s wrong to steal from humans fer the sake of tiny chartreuse sweet potato leaves; why would I believe it’s wrong to steal from plants?
Aslan also wants to point out that the difference between “stealing” a plant’s life and stealing the life of an animal is vast and unforgiving—for plants, “stealing” a life means uprooting it (and even then, that doesn’t work for a lot of plants—salsify, anyone?) or, if you ask Keith, killing what is essentially a very large gamete. It has no life until it’s been germinated. It will not die if it is not planted in a certain period of time—only if it’s treated improperly. What Keith calls “killing” here is actually along the same lines of “mass murdering” millions of sperm, except on a slightly smaller scale. The difference is that a sperm has a one-in-trillions chance of becoming a full, self-sufficient organism; a tree’s seed has a chance of about one in several thousand.
But the “stealing of a life” as it applies to animals that Keith is advocating isn’t just the end of a potential potential life—it’s literally the stealing of an animal’s entire life. Not merely ending their life; she advocates farming animals for human use, stealing their lives from birth to death. What she is talking about is literally a pervasive violation of a life that could otherwise have been free-roaming and engaged—an ownership of someone. Because they’re property.
I am absolutely going to argue that eating the watermelon seeds is an act that is absolutely, fundamentally different from farming animals for food.
She continues on in that vein for a bit, and honestly, I’m done with that. I’ve already pointed out fifty different kinds of NOPE and I want to tackle something new now.
If killing is the problem,
It isn’t, you fuckwit! No one goes vegan from such a ridiculous standpoint—they stay a half-assed vegetarian, like you did, if they believe that. How many times have I heard, “Well they don’t kill the cows for milk” from dumbass vegetarians?
The problem is treatment. The problem is violation. The problem is that animals can firsthand experience what humans do to them and thus they should be left alone entirely, and plants cannot. If you knew anything about veganism, you’d know this!
If killing is the problem, the life of one grass-fed cow will feed me for an entire year.
First, that’s not physically possible. I hold a standard of 2,000 calories a day for any adult human, 365 days a year, regardless of how anyone may whine that it “makes them gain weight.” That’s 730,000 calories a year. Slaughter weight for grain-finished cows is 800 lbs. (Grain finished, mind—beef cows are grazed for the majority of their lives, despite Keith’s claims that this is not taken into consideration.) Grass-fed cows weigh only about 3/4 of this—600 lbs. Assuming that all of that 600 lbs. is edible, which is extremely generous, and assuming an extremely generous 1,150kcal/lb. despite the fact that cows are fed grains partially to boost fat:muscle ratio, that’s still only 690,000 calories—a full 40,000 less than what an adult human needs to survive.
But other than that, am I seriously to believe that Keith eats nothing but cow meat day in, day out, 2,000 calories a day, year after year? I know she doesn’t—she talks about eating dairy, eggs and chickens, too. Lierre Keith is essentially arguing her point by lying—by suggesting that she can do something, therefore she does, therefore she’s right.
And furthermore, what is all this “life of one cow” hoohah? Keith is perfectly happy to yammer on and on about how vegans are so hypocritical and evil for killing plants, but look how quickly the talk of plant life disappears when it would make her look good to deliberately omit them. Something you may not know about cows: they evolved on African grasslands, and they trample and kill North American ones. Their teeth rip up North American grasses straight out of the ground by their roots, and their hooves trample the ground and desertify the Earth. If she’s ignorant of this, it’s only because she chooses to be.
Fact is, no matter how badly Lierre Keith wants to obscure these facts, cow farming kills the Earth. What about the prairie dogs? What about the animals shot and killed to “protect” cows until they could be slaughtered for human food? What about the species utterly annihilated by the environmental degradation brought on specifically by humans’ sense of entitlement to cows’ bodies? Does Lierre Keith want them back, too?
But a single vegan meal of plant babies—rice grains, almonds, soybeans—ground up or boiled alive, will involve hundreds of deaths. Why don’t they matter?
1. Because plants do not have a nervous system. At all. This gives us just the slightest inclination that plants don’t actually suffer from bring “ground up or boiled alive!!1” Again, I fail to see why I should care about “boiling alive” something that doesn’t register being boiled alive.
2. Rice grains and almonds, at least, are shelf stable for extremely long periods of time without any form of sustenance, suggesting they’re not actually “alive.” And they’re not—actually, that’s one of the traits that establishes them as plants instead of animals or fungi.
3. Soybeans are frozen because their water content is too high for them to remain shelf-stable.
4. This argument still doesn’t work, and it didn’t the first thousand times a carnist used it on me, thinking they were being oh so clever.
“I won’t eat anything that has a mother or a face,” was one of my standard declarations. But every living thing has a mother.
I’ve never, ever declared this because it’s always seemed stupid and overly simplistic to me. And there doesn’t seem much of a difference between going from one black-and-white worldview—I won’t eat anything that has a mother!—to another black-and-white worldview—for someone to live someone else must die! It’s all very formulaic and boring and again, I’m going to suggest that it’s just Keith for whom this is even an issue and not, as she keeps suggesting, every other vegan in the world.
But I have an additional problem with this. What on Earth is “mother” supposed to mean? It’s clearly an emotional tactic—that hasn’t changed for Keith; she’s still using it as an emotional tactic, as you can see—so it’s reasonable to assume that the idea of “mother” as used here is actually bound up in a human-centric, Western-centric, patriarchal ideal of “motherhood.” There are three problems with that:
1. “Motherhood” doesn’t function that way in nature: are many species of snakes unworthy of rights because they aren’t very “motherlike” by our standards? For most species, “motherhood” is not the ideal we believe it to be—hell, for most human cultures, even.
2. Most human women don’t even follow this standard of “motherhood.” What about widespread emotional and mental abuse, even when neither the mother nor the child want to recognize it?
3. The oppressed, in order to “prove” they have the right to have rights, are always held up to these kyriarchal ideals far more than the people who claim they developed those ideals. The people in power don’t have to match their own standard—only the oppressed do, because the people in power know it’s an impossible standard.
A Hispanic woman has to be twice as smart, twice as aggressive, twice as hardworking and twice as right for half the credit a white man would get—but she must also do it without breaking any of the privilege-aura taboos of race, sex, class or language. No one on the privilege end ever has to fulfill the ideals they set up for standards of worthiness.
The “motherhood” standard is bunk. I’ve known a cat who, despite her supposed “maternal instinct,” treated her kittens as annoyances and didn’t even nurse them long enough, groom them or teach them to hunt. I’ve also known a cat who had kittens taken away from her and was the permanent “mothering” type—it didn’t even matter if they were kittens anymore: she’d grab them, drag them into a corner, and groom them into submission. (I also knew a neutered male cat who did the same thing—in fact, he was the one who took care of the first cat’s kittens and was their momma.)
There are more differences within species’ individual psychology than there are between them.
Some beings give their lives to produce their offspring. That means they can’t be around to nurture them, but does that mean they love their offspring any less?
Yes. Because they’re dead and they never met their offspring. You can’t love someone abstractly, and unless Keith is going way beyond this already-ridiculous “but everything’s, like, a being, maaan,” argument into suggesting mandatory ghosthood for parents or whatever… Well.
And suppose your mother didn’t love you:
I don’t have to suppose. I judge on behavior. Twit.
… does that mean your life is intrinsically worth less?
Less than what?
All plants’ lives are worth the same. All animals’ lives are worth the same—yeah, you can go fuck yourself with your entitlement, you stupid ugly deformed monkey. But animals’ lives are not worth the same—not lived the same—as plants’ lives.
Keith is making another red herring argument. I’m willing to wager that vegans don’t think that the issue is about whether or not you have a mother that loves you, but instead whether or not you are fundamentally capable of love due to having a nervous system and being capable of experiencing your life in a way plants cannot.
Then there’s the face part. Why does the possession of a face define who counts or who doesn’t? What it actually defines is who is most like humans, who more different: do they look like us?
Exactly. That’s why I’m vegan. It doesn’t matter how much an animal looks like me—it only matters that, unlike plants, they can experience their lives.
This is an argument against speciesism—but Keith is fundamentally a speciesist: she believes that it is acceptable to use animals as property in ways that it is not acceptable to use humans. It is not, as Keith is trying to twist it into, an argument against veganism.
There’s that anthropocentrism again, an ethical system based on how similar a living being is to humans.
I propose that Lierre Keith be officially banned from ever using the word “anthropocentrism” until she can prove she knows what it actually means.
You can call me “animaliacentrist,” and I won’t bicker about that—I am. The vast majority of animal species have something that no plant does: a nervous system to process pain, emotions and information about one’s environment, which can then be used to make decisions. But Keith is wrong in that I believe animals are better because they have a nervous system like humans—for one thing, if I were really so hung up on humanlike nervous systems, I’d be one of those dumbfucks who fails to realize the pattern of all body parts in nature: that the larger something is, the less dextrous and the less efficient it will generally be. That is to say, the larger a human’s brain is, the less efficient, dextrous and effective it is at doing its job. It’s the same with other organs and I don’t see any reason to think otherwise except that some humans think brains are “special.” Funny, that. Some men also think that penises are special, and use their possession of them to justify oppression.
Lierre, farming is inherently anthropocentric. You support farming. You even support farming domesticated animals in a territory they are not native to, for the benefit of humans. Que pasa?
Etc. Etc. I’m done with this argument. It’s worthless and if Keith had a shred of intellectual honesty in her body, she’d have realized that.
Perhaps if the asphalt was removed and the earth restored, the underlying reciprocity of the human-apple relationship would naturally reassert itself.
Or maybe humans would be forced to go back to the Northwest African rainforest, which would be restored, because we aren’t native or genetically adapted to the dry colder regions in which apples naturally grow…
Oops, pardon me; I didn’t mean to make sense.
But humans can’t live on apples.
Oh, hey. Another unsupported assertion.
Mind, I don’t think humans can live on apples—I don’t think apples are a natural food for humans. They’re not tropical, they’re too hard and will cut our gums, etc.
You know, she just keeps doing this. It’s the sixteenth page and while I’ve seen mountains of fallacious claims, hasty generalizations, unsubstantiated assertions and arguments that wouldn’t pass muster with some of the carnists I used to go to school with, she has not laid out a single new thing for me to think about. It’s all arguments I’ve seen before; she acts like she has the right to be bored when she uses these arguments and the exasperated vegans fire the same goddamn rebuttals back at them. She refuses to get that she can’t just repeat them ad nauseum and eventually people will magically just agree with her; she refuses to get that if she’s been hearing the same rebuttals over and over again, it’s probably because she’s been using the same arguments over and over and over and over and fucking over again.
She goes back to the argument about the fruit seeds, even though she’s said herself it’s irrelevant because “fruit trees are grafted.” (Mind, she doesn’t know why; she just knows they are, and that’s all she needs to use it for her argument. So there.) She keeps persisting with the warped belief that all of nature is built on an utterly unsustainable 1:1 seed:fully-grown-organism ratio, because otherwise she’d have to actually realize and admit that it’s not feasible to argue that humans are anthropocentric for eating fruit and composting the seeds. She keeps asserting that plants have the exact same kind of life as animals, and if you don’t agree then you’re wearing leather shoes, neener-neener! Except I’m not wearing leather shoes—they’re canvas and she just hasn’t bothered to even look at my feet.
She acts like it’s this horrible thing that the seeds themselves are eaten with nuts and grains. Does that mean that as long as I reproduce, I can be killed for someone’s whims and no harm, no foul? As long as we “do our ‘biological’ duty” then we have no stake or claim to freedom of association, mutual aid, quality of life, self-sufficiency—all anarchist ideals?
She mentions again that humans can’t digest cellulose, and we can’t. But cellulose (fiber) is a necessary part of our intestinal tracts—our intestines actually need it to function properly, and this is a widely-accepted and -observed fact. Cats don’t need to eat fiber to shit regularly; humans do, because otherwise our internal range balance goes out of whack and we end up either having horrible diarrhea or constipation—or an alternating combination of the two. Keith is actually going out of her way to ignore carbohydrates—but if we can’t digest cellulose, and grains and fruits are so low in protein and fat, then how the hell do we get any energy from those foods? Is she just going to like, ignore Japan and China and Thailand and every human culture that primarily sustains themselves off of rice? She simply asserts that seeds sprouting thousands of years later means they “wanted” to live; what about seeds that will never sprout at all? Did they want to live? Were those seeds suicidal? What about fetuses? If fetuses are born, did they want to live? If a woman miscarries, was the fetus suicidal—should we promote Fetal Suicide Prevention? Does this even make any sense at all to try to make this argument—to mistakenly conflate a natural occurance with intention, the same way some Christians will mistakenly conflate “what happens” with “God’s will”?
She doesn’t ask these things. It’s not that she doesn’t ask these things of her readers; it’s that she doesn’t ask these things of herself. I can’t figure out if she’s lying or if she’s just incapable of grasping the point.